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Vegan Diets

Vegan Diets

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Published by AnnabelleMalo
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Published by: AnnabelleMalo on Sep 14, 2010
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12/19/2011

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Vegan diets require critical considerations of dietary choices by Parul Tandon, Krishna Meka, Pavan Bhatt, Rupi Mangat, Hariharan Manogaralingam Veganism: To be or not to be? This is a question that many students ponder over every day.Is it bad to be vegan? Should you be a vegan and take a stand against animal slaughter?These are just a few of many things to consider before taking up veganism. A vegan diet is anextremist version of the vegetarian diet because it does not consist of any dairy products. It isimportant to understand how your lifestyle will change and how your body will respond to thesechanges. Whether you are Irish or Indian, Chinese or Japanese, American or Canadian, youmay have chosen this particular lifestyle for nutritional and/or ethical reasons. Regardless of thereason, being vegan has its ups and downs.A nutritional balance is essential for a good healthy living, which you may or may not get fromvegan diets. In order to achieve this balance, it is crucial to supplement this particular diet withlacking nutrients. If implemented correctly, this modified diet can reduce the risk of disease andprolong your life like you never imagined.So you may be wondering, what nutrients are vegans missing out on? Well, it is widely knownthat vegan diets usually lack nutrients such as proteins, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitaminD. Furthermore, when comparing a vegan and a non-vegetarian diet, individuals on the vegandiet have been shown to have a lower protein intake. This is because in a non-vegetariandiet, protein can be obtained from animal products such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs and dairyproducts. Still considering this diet?Don't be discouraged! There are still many sources of protein in a vegan diet. It is just a matter of planning your diet according to the recommended daily intake of protein required. A vegancan obtain protein from nuts, seeds, beans, tofu and soy milk. If you still think you will not beable to obtain enough protein from these sources, why not try a protein shake or one of theabundant protein supplements out on the market.Another key nutrient lacking from a vegan diet is iron which plays a vital role in carryingoxygenated blood to tissues in your body. Individuals on a vegan diet can maintainrecommended iron levels by eating a variety of nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, and raisin
 
bran. In a non-vegetarian diet, dairy products are the number one source of calcium for manypeople.Now you may be confident about your iron intake as a vegan, but what about calcium? Youmight be thinking about how you would get the calcium you need to maintain those strong andhealthy bones you’ve been nourishing since your early childhood. With a vegan diet, you canget your calcium intake from dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and firm tofu fortifiedwith calcium. Calcium fortified soy milk and orange juice are also effective ways of obtainingcalcium within a vegan diet. If that's not enough, why not include calcium supplements withthose iron ones you bought last week.Bring on the vitamins. It is essential to realize that vitamins B12 and vitamin D are alsoimportant nutrients that vegans must be aware of. If choosing to pursue a vegan diet, one mustbe sure to consume these vitamins as they are fundamental to one’s body. Vitamin B12 isessential for the proper functioning of the nervous system and is only found in animal productsand fortified vegan foods. To meet your body’s needs, 2-3 servings of B12 rich foods arerequired daily. Vegans can consume vitamin B12 fortified soy milk and veggie “meats”, that aresoy or tofu based, or vitamin B12 supplements. As for vitamin D, it helps control your heart,nervous system and also aids with calcium absorption.Vitamin D is the one nutrient not found in vegan diets. But fear not, our body is capable of producing this vitamin. That's right, just soak up the sun for 15 minutes, 3 times a week. But beaware, during the winter months, you should be taking vitamin D supplements and also drinkvitamin D fortified orange juice, soy milk or ready-to-eat cereals. All in all, a properly plannedvegan diet can satisfy all of your nutritional requirements and make you a healthier individual.But wait! If you are missing out on so many nutrients, then why convert to vegan diets in the firstplace? Well, ethics and religion have a major influence on one’s diet, be it from birth or later inlife. Many religions often do not condone meat-eating, some even specifying a stance againstthe consumption of animals. The notion that all life is equal, and killing any animal is a sin isprevalent in every religion.In Christianity, "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the ten commandments, which some see as aprescription for a vegan diet. According to Keith Akers, a Christian author, humans are stewardsof God’s creation, and taking care of all that live is a sacred task. In fact, there is much debateas to whether even Jesus was a vegan, scholars citing that Jesus preached nonviolence andcompassion for all animals . Similarly, some sects of Buddhism also teach compassion for allthat live, stating that refraining from eating meat would help in the path toward enlightenment.Hinduism preaches the policy of "ahimsa" (nonviolence), and purity of food offered to God.According to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), partaking of foodgotten from "sin", by killing, one would only be consuming and accumulating sin . Any food,before eaten, must be offered to God. Meat is considered an unacceptable offering, consideredto be ‘tainted’. Meat-eating is further viewed as unnecessary slaughter and uncivilized.According to James Laidlaw, a scholar on Janism, it is mandatory that all followers of the Jainreligion adhere to a strict lacto-vegetarian diet, again based on the principles of ahimsa andpreventing accumulation of sinful deeds. Anything even remotely associated with an animal or animal product (other than dairy) is strictly prohibited, taking care to not hurt even the smallestof animals. Jains consider a nonviolent nature one of the most important objectives in achievingliberation from the cycle of birth and death. Even some sects of Sikhism prescribe veganism asa way of life. In this way, many of the world’s major religions adhere to vegan diets based ongrounds of nonviolence and compassion.

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